When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. Exodus 21:22 ESV
Children – Just in case there was ever any doubt about the Hebraic view of the beginning of being a person, this verse clears it up. The context of the verse is certainly about a fetus. If the unborn child in the womb is disturbed by outward physical violence, and the child is born prematurely as a result, but there is no permanent damage to the child, then only a fine needs to be paid. The regulation is understandable, but now pay attention to the actual words used. The word translated “children” is yeled. Here it can only mean fetus, but it is the same word used for any young child or even young adults. In other words, Hebrew makes no distinction between the “child” in the womb and the child after it is born. A person is a person no matter where he or she happens to be.
Contemporary theology that attempts to distinguish between the unborn fetus and the birthed child ignores the Hebraic worldview, and consequently must reinterpret the text to fit current cultural mores. From a biblical perspective, deliberate abortion for reasons other than saving the life of the mother is the termination of another person’s life. This is typically murder. There are exceptions, of course, because Torah recognizes a hierarchy of values. That’s why accidental abortion, miscarriage or abortion in order to save the life of the mother is not treated as murder. But abortion on demand for the purpose of maintaining lifestyle is the equivalent of child sacrifice to pagan fertility gods. And it is absolutely forbidden.
There is a price to pay for ignoring God’s Word – and God’s words. Yeled is one of those words. It has serious implications for human behavior – implications that do not go away just because we live in Babylon. Frankly, given the text and the Hebraic value placed on life, I can’t imagine how any follower of the Way can consider abortion on demand anything but an abomination to God. The justification for such a policy is entirely cultural, a product of Babylon, not Scriptural. And just because we live in Babylon does not mean that we are free to adopt its view of life and the world around us. We live in Babylon to call Babylon back to the Creator. Nineveh escaped destruction because one man hesitantly brought the warning of its doom and the leaders of that great city heard the warning. Woe to those who do not hear. They will not escape.
It brings me enormous grief to know that my culture treats life with such disrespect that it dimisses the “bloods” of those who could have been. It is even more traumatic to think that I have contributed to any part of this, even if only not to speak up against it. When I reflect on the tragedy that my Babylonian culture has inflicted on God’s creation, when I think about all those whom God could have incorporated into His purposes, I am amazed that He shows us any mercy at all.
Topical Index: yeled, child, fetus, abortion, Exodus 21:22
The Evangelical Mantra: Yesterday Rodney Baker offered corrections to the transliterated Hebrew text of John 3:3. I have added them to the TW, so if you are keeping a record, please use the updated version. It doesn’t make a difference to the argument, but it will add linguistic accuracy.